Raising children is tough enough, throw "bilingualism" into the parenting mix, it's not for the faint-hearted.
Before you go “OMG, is that what other parents are doing today in planning parenting”- Relax! This image is one of our brainstorming boards. For entrepreneurs/strategists, it is not uncommon in the process of customer development to look at solving customer’s pain points or “job-to-be-done”.
But in the process of us solving the pain points of our customers (which could be you:), it is also reflecting and solving our pain points. We first ask ourselves- why do we think it is important to raise bilingual children?
Funnily, if you look at the board- none of the team thinks it is for academic purposes. That’s right- doing well in tests/exams is just a means to an end. Life is a long game.
Firstly, bilingualism is a skillset that goes a long way.
As Dr Seuss affectionately wrote:
“The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
Mastering another language opens up a whole new range of possibilities for the child- able to communicate with more people, enjoy more movies, books, songs or travel to more places.
Research has shown and proven that true mastery of language is not simply by rote memorization or drilling. It involves providing a practical use of the language. Language comes alive when used, not while printed on paper.
For instance, using Mandarin frequently in our daily lives/chores, reading sessions or watching edutainment related materials.
But, the reality is...
Here are what parents say when we ask them “Tell me a story about the last time you spoke Mandarin to your child/ tried to teach your child Chinese and what was the hardest part about it?”
😪: “When I read/ play with him and encourage him to repeat after me (in Mandarin)… He answers in English. He says he wants another book, picking up an English book.”
😪: “Mama, speak to me in English, not Chinese.”
😪: “I don't enjoy speaking Chinese and tend to pick English material myself…”
The first thought - ok phew, we are not alone! 😅And the second - So why not we help parents like ourselves build something that could help young children pick up Mandarin?
But wait a minute... why build something when you can just send for Mandarin enrichment classes?
We see some great case studies where children enjoy going to Mandarin enrichment classes (those that involve singing, fun-storytelling etc).
We see some even greater case studies where parents continue to foster this positive attitude at home. Why let the fun ‘end’ or only exist in Mandarin enrichment classes? How can we start making Mandarin speaking fun at home, while making it easy for parents?
The appropriate use of technology - supporting educational outcomes
While doing my Masters of Education, I spent a couple of modules looking at technology and child development. I was interested to see how we can use technology to value-add learning, as it has in so many aspects of our lives (like Google Maps!). I always ask myself, if Maria Montessori had access to technology then, how would ‘Montessori’ learning be like?
Our voice-interactive AI directed stories are carefully designed for preschoolers. Here are 3 things that make it different from other Mandarin digital stories:
✅Voice-Interactive🗣️ - there are questions asked along the way, and children need to speak (no clicking/no buttons!) to select their options. We want to get children comfortable with communicating and speaking the language.
✅ Focus on daily practical vocabulary : a lot of time and effort is put into writing and editing the content. For instance, we expose children to words that are based on physical, daily objects, or what they can see in their surroundings. This contextualizes the language.
✅Appropriately paced animation: Quality and quantity of screen time is important factors in balancing the use of technology in child development. BrookieKids uses flat 2D illustration that is easy on the eye, coupled with minimal animation. We call this “画龙点睛“, because on the contrary, using too much of animation could become “画蛇添足“。
Don’t just take it from us…
Here is a review from parent blogger, LahLahBanana after trying out our voice-interactive stories!
Image credits: LahLahBanana
Great, so I just let my child use BrookieKids and he/she will become a Mandarin pro?
That will be my dream if it happens! 🤣 Sincerely, I would wish that BrookieKids can help and continue to develop products that support children's love for Mandarin (and positive attitude towards learning in general).
We are taking good strides to get there, and we hope that you will join us in this journey of bilingual educating/parenting too!